On Monday, the Eagles begin two days of joint practices with the Baltimore Ravens. The reigning AFC North champions bring electrifying young quarterback Lamar Jackson to town. They also boast one of the most suffocating defenses in the league.
Head coach Doug Pederson confirmed the scrimmages will be played with full pads on and likely run two hours in length. There is no live contact scheduled. The high temperature for Monday afternoon is predicted to be a sweltering 92 degrees.
“We’re going to go pads both days. There’s no live contact as far as going to the ground,” Pederson told reporters Sunday. “[Ravens Head] Coach Harbaugh and I spoke the other night, we kind of went through all that, and ironed it out. Both of us are on the same page as far as that goes.
“We’ll get great work, much like we did a couple years ago with the Miami [Dolphins] here. We’ll go pads both days, keep it to about two hours both days, and get some good work in.”
Follow the Heavy Philadelphia Eagles page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Top 5 Matchups to Watch for Eagles-Ravens
1. Nathan Gerry vs. Lamar Jackson
We’ve listed Gerry because all eyes have been on the third-year man out of Nebraska, but this matchup applies to all the Eagles linebackers. Especially after the team cut Paul Worrilow over the weekend. After struggling mightily in the first preseason game, Gerry picked it up last week against the Jaguars. He finished with two tackles, plus a nice fumble recovery at midfield on a ball poked loose by Daeshon Hall.
Zach Brown, Alex Singleton, L.J. Fort and T.J. Edwards will all have to be on their toes as they look to stop the unpredictable Jackson. The second-year quarterback is deceptively dangerous with his feet after running for 695 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie. He likes to keep defenses honest by faking rush, then throwing short passes in the middle of the field. This should be a great test.
2. Carson Wentz vs. Earl Thomas
Not a completely tangible matchup, with Wentz and Thomas probably not physically squaring off. However, Thomas has long been one of the best safeties in football and his ability to read the quarterback’s eyes has earned him five trips to the Pro Bowl. The 30-year-old controls the Ravens defense, just like Wentz manages the Eagles offense. Thomas also has a huge chip on his shoulder after the way Seattle threw him to the curb.
The former Seahawks defensive back has 28 career interceptions and 684 tackles in nine NFL seasons. The two have matched wits before, too. When the Eagles played the Seahawks back in 2017 in a 24-10 defeat for Philadelphia. Thomas had four tackles in that one (no picks), while Wentz went 29-of-45 for 348 yards with a touchdown and interception.
3. DeSean Jackson vs. Jimmy Smith
It’ll be interesting to see who the Ravens put on the Eagles’ speedster, arguably the fastest man in the NFL. Smith is the proven veteran cornerback, but 23-year-old Marlon Humphrey has been turning heads in Baltimore. Smith has defended Jackson before, most recently in 2016 when the wideout was on the Redskins. He was held to three catches for 35 yards in that game.
The two grew up in the league together and are only one year apart in age; Jackson is 32 and Smith is 31. Jackson had been blowing by the Eagles young corners in training camp, but can he do it in a real game setting? We’re about to find out. (Interesting side note: the Eagles were supposed to draft Smith in 2011, but chose Danny Watkins over him).
4. Malcolm Jenkins vs. Mark Andrews
Andrews has been the star of Ravens training camp, according to the beat reporters in Baltimore. The second-year player led all rookie tight ends last year in receiving with 552 yards and the hype train is at an all-time high for 2019. At 6-foot-4 and 256 pounds, the physical Andrews is a nightmare matchup for opposing safeties.
Enter Jenkins. The Eagles veteran safety forced his way into last week’s preseason game and made his presence felt on two big tackles. Jenkins is the heart and soul of Philly’s defense, the unquestioned coach on the field, and it’ll be his job to set the tempo in these scrimmages.
5. Andre Dillard vs. Jaylon Ferguson
This is the matchup I’m most looking forward to this week. The Ravens selected Ferguson with their second pick in the draft, taking the outside linebacker in the third round (85th overall). In Baltimore’s 3-4 defense, he’ll be lining up as a pass-rusher and the coaching staff loves his aggressiveness. However, Ferguson has failed to stand out so far this summer. He recorded his first tackle last week against Green Bay.
Meanwhile, Dillard has been an absolute revelation for the Eagles and the first-round pick has done everything right. That sack on Cody Kessler wasn’t his fault. The Ravens and Eagles are expecting these guys to anchor their offensive and defensive lines for the foreseeable future, so seeing them go at it mano-a-mano in 92-degree weather should be incredibly fun to watch. There’s a good chance we see another fight.